Fertiliser is the key input for sustainable agriculture.  In the Post Green Revolution period, more than 50% of additional foodgrains production has been contributed by the fertiliser alone.  To ensure adequate availability of right quality of fertilizers at reasonable price to the farmers in the country, the ‘Fertiliser’ was declared as an Essential Commodity in March, 1957 and the Fertiliser Control Order (FCO) was promulgated by the Central Government under section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act (ECA), 1955 to regulate the trade, price, quality and distribution of Fertilisers in the Country.




2.       India is the third largest producer and consumer of fertilisers in the world after China and USA.    It contributes to 12.1% of world production and 12.6% of world consumption but sustains 1/6 of world population.  India is the second largest producer of Urea & DAP after China/ USA respectively. the production and consumption of fertilisers in 5 major producer & consumer countries have been given in TABLE-1.   the data in TABLE-2 indicates that the per hectare consumption in the Country is much less even from the neighbouring countries.




3.       the production capacity has mainly got impetus during 70s and 80s.  the Nitrogen capacity increased from 1.5 million tonnes (mt) during 1971-72 to 8.3 mt during 1991-92 and the phosphate capacity from 0.5 mt to 2.8 mt.  Now there are total 63 Nitrogenous fertiliser plants and 83 phosphatic fertiliser plants (including SSP) with a total production capacity of 12.00 and 5.46 mt N&P respectively during 2001-02 and 10.51 and 3.91 mt during 2002-03.  the production of N was 0.9 mt and Phosphates 0.3 mt during 1971-72, which increased to 10.77 and 3.86 mt respectively during 2001-02 and 10.51 and 3.91 mt during 2002-03. the indigenous production meets about 95% of N and 85% of P consumption requirements and the remaining quantity is imported.  About 20 grades of fertilisers are produced in the country, out of which, the important fertilisers are Urea, DAP, SSP and Complexes.  there is no source of K available in the country and hence the entire potassic fertilisers (MOP) is imported. Urea constitutes 81% of Total N, the low analysis fertiliser like Ammonium Sulphate, Ammonium Chloride and CAN as 2%, DAP and Complexes together provide 17% of total N but 90% of Total Phosphates and remaining 10% Phosphate is from SSP.



4.       As the Country is not self sufficient in N & P production and the entire K is imported, the country has to import DAP and MOP and a very small quantity of Urea from different countries.  the DAP is mainly imported  from  USA & Jordan and a small quantity from CIS.  the MOP is imported mainly from CIS, Germany, Jordan , Israel and Canada.  the import figures of these fertilisers during 1991-92 to 2002-03 have been indicated in TABLE-3.  the production and import, consumption of major fertilisers are indicated in TABLE-4.




5.       the Fertiliser Control Order, issued under section 3 of the Essential Commodities Act, provides for compulsory registration of fertiliser manufacturers, importers and  dealers, specification of all fertilisers manufactured/imported    and sold in the country, regulation on manufacture of fertiliser mixtures, packing and labelling on the fertiliser bags, appointment of enforcement agencies, setting up of quality control laboratories and prohibition on manufacture/import and sale of non-standard/spurious/adulterated fertilisers.  the order also provides for cancellation of authorization letter/registration certificates of dealers and mixture manufacturers and also imprisonment from 3 months to 7 years with fine to offenders under ECA.  the FCO offence has also been declared as cognizable and non bailable.

5.1     the FCO has been amended periodically to keep it abreast with the changing  scenario.  A number of amendments have been made during last 4 decades and a few recently in 2003, which includes replacement of Dealers Registration Certificate with Authorisation letter, providing grievances redressal mechanism through Referee Analysis and tolerances in Moisture and particle size, for the first time prescribing specification of provisional fertilizers for commercial trials, specification of new grades of 100% water soluble NPK fertilizers, maintaining  of minimum laboratory facilities for all Fertilizer Control Laboratories for ensuring accuracy of results, reduced time limit from sampling to communication of results, provision for secrecy of samples, reprocessing of damaged stock during transit in special situation and methods of analysis of different fertilizers etc.




          the FCO provides for administrative action against offenders while ECA provides for penal provisions.  the offenders of FCO are prosecuted under Section 7 of ECA, 1955.  the following penalities have been prescribed under ECA :-

I)       3 months to 7 years imprisonment with fine under Section 7(i)(a)(ii).

ii)       Making any false information is punishable upto 5 years imprisonment.

iii)      the fertiliser stock and also its receptacle can be forefeited under section 7(i)(ii).

iv)      the FCO offences are treated as cognizable and non bailable offences under section  10 A.

v)       All offences are to be tried by the Courts of 1st Class Magistrate only, who can impose imprisonment upto 2 years and fine.

vi)               the Authorization letter of dealers can be suspended/cancelled/debarred under clause 31 of  FCO and no fresh dealers authorization is issued within one year of the cancellation of their Authorization Letter or upto 3 years if the dealer has been convicted by the Court.


5.3     About 20 grades of various fertilisers are produced in 58 Major  N & P manufacturing units and 73 SSP Manufacturing units.   About 36.56 million tonnes of fertiliser material (17.36 mt nutrients) are distributed through a network of 2.83 Lakh dealers of both private and institutional channel.  the occasional shortage of some fertilisers in sporadic pockets and high cost of fertilisers specially after decontrol of phosphatic and potassic fertilisers, are often exploited by the unscrupulous elements for adulteration/misbranding.


6.       MAJOR PROBLEMS OF QUALITY CONTROL : -the major problems in quality control are :-



1.       NPK(Mixtures)/SSP (Granular)    --------------DAP/NPK Complexes

2.       Magnesium Sulphate                   --------------Zinc Sulphate

3.       Common Salt/sand                               --------------MOP

4.       Gypsum/Fly ash/Clay                  --------------SSP/DAP/Complexes.



·        NPK Mixtures

·        SSP

·        Micronutrient Fertilisers


III.     SHORT WEIGHT OF BAGS                               (5% PROBLEM)

IV.            Black marketing or over Charging price                                      -do-




the problem of quality control in fertiliser, can be exploited by the unscrupulous elements.  However, certain fertilisers are more prone where adulteration/mixing of cheap foreign material having physical similarities is quite easily possible without detection by the ordinary means or where the inputs/ingredients can be easily manipulated for affecting the finished product to a lower quality.  these are called as Prone Fertilisers.


6.2     At Macro level based on the samples found  Non-standard in different states, the following prone fertilisers have been identified in order of severity :-

I)       Fertiliser Mixtures

ii)       SSP

iii)      Micronutrient fertilisers

iv)      DAP & Complexes


6.3     the main reasons for non standard material in fertiliser mixtures and micronutrient fertilisers are due to use of lesser quantity of ingredients/raw material or their lower quality, the non standard sample in SSP is either due to this account or inadequate curing or use of the excess quantity of fillers and non homogenous mixing..




          the State Govts. are primarily responsible for implementing the FCO provisions through appointment of Enforcement agencies like Fertiliser Inspectors, Registering Authority/Notified Authority and Appellate Authority, who have been given adequate powers under the Order.  they also set up quality control laboratories for testing of samples.


7.1     the Central Govt. only oversee the activities and assist the State Govts. through periodical executive guidelines, making necessary amendment in FCO provisions as and when required and training of their Enforcement Officers at the Central Fertiliser Quality Control & Training Institute.


7.2     the Fertiliser Inspectors, who are the back bone for implementing the FCO provisions, are notified by the State Govts. under clause 27 of FCO.  they are empowered to draw samples from importers, manufacturing units, distribution network and dealers, seek any information about manufacture, import and sale of any fertiliser, enter upon and search any premises where fertiliser is manufactured or sold, seize any fertiliser and also books of accounts in case any contravention of FCO  provisions is anticipated and also to stop the sale of fertilisers.  they are also empowered to check the illegal inter-state movement of fertilisers under Fertiliser Movement Control Order (FMCO).


7.3     the Registering Authorities/Notified Authority are notified by the State Govts. under clause 26 and 26A for issuance and renewal of Registration Certificates  for manufacture of fertiliser mixtures and special mixtures and dealers respectively.  they are also empowered to suspend/cancel/debar these certificates in case of violation of FCO provisions.  the Appellate Authority is also notified by the State Govts. to hear appeal against the orders of Registering Authority/Notified Authority about refusal to grant or renew Registration Certificates/Authorization Letter and its suspension/cancellation/debarment.  the order of the Appellate Authority is considered final under FCO.


7.4     the State Fertiliser Inspectors regularly draw samples of all imported and indigenous fertilisers and send to State Quality Control Laboratory,  who test as per prescribed procedure and communicate the result to Inspector within 30 days, if the sample meets prescribed specification or not (standard or non standard).  If sample is found Non-standard the administrative/legal action is taken against offender by Registering Authority/Fertiliser Inspector.


7.5   the Central Govt. has also notified a limited number of Fertiliser Inspectors posted at Central Fertiliser Quality Control & Training Institute and its 3 Regional Laboratories and defined their area of jurisdiction as throughout the country.  they mainly inspect the imported fertilisers at the discharge ports and randomly the indigenous manufacturing units and their distribution network to supplement the activities of State Govts. samples are analysed in the Central Institute and Regional Laboratories  and the reports are sent to the State Govts. for further follow up action on non standard samples as per provisions of FCO, 1985.




          With the sustained efforts of Government, the number of laboratories have increased from 27 during 5th Plan to 44 by the end of 6th Plan (1984-85) and 47 during 7th Plan.  Now, there are 67 Fertiliser Quality Control Laboratories in the country, which includes 4 laboratories of Govt. of India with total annual analysing capacity of 125205 samples.  this is inadequate in view of the minimum requirement of 5.66 lakhs samples capacity to cover each dealer’s shop once during Kharif and Rabi.  Most of the States have one or more labs.  However, 7 States namely : Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Delhi, Goa and al U.Ts.(except Pondicherry) do not have any laboratory and they are presently being catered from Govt. of India Laboratories.   the number of laboratories and analytical capacity during 1995-96  to 2002-03 are as under :-


No. of Lab.

Analytical Capacity

Sample Analysed

Percent Non- Standard




































2002-03 (Provisional








          the optimal laboratory capacity should be cover all fertilizers and all dealers at each Kharif and Rabi season, which means about 17 lakh samples (2.83 lakh dealers x 3 fertiliser x 2seasons).  However, the minimum capacity should be double the number of dealers to cover each dealer during each Kharif and Rabi season and need 5.66 lakh samples but the existing capacity is only 1.19 lakhs.  Presently, for each laboratory there are 4353 dealers on All India basis, which varies from 150 in Pondicherry, 1182 in Tamil Nadu to 11980 in West Bengal and 21931 dealers/Lab in U.P.  the number of sale points/laboratory capacity varies from 2.1 in Rajasthan to 10.3 in West Bengal and 11.0 in U.P., it means it would take 22 years to test all samples drawn from each dealer in U.P. and 20 years in case of West Bengal and 2 years in case of Tamil Nadu.  this needs strengthening/Setting up minimum 40laboratories in different states especially in U.P., Punjab and West Bengal.




          though on All India basis, 90.8% of the capacity is being utilized, however, the utilization in the State of Assam, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Mizoram are  below 50% while in some states, it is nearly 100% or more e.g. U.P., Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.  the Laboratory capacity is also very variable from only 250 in Assam and 700 in Pondicherry, 1260 in Tamil Nadu to around 3000 in A.P.  




          In view of very scanty laboratory facility available in the country (only 20% of the minimal requirement), specific attention needs to be given on the problem or prone fertilizers.  though the situation has improved over a period of time, however, yet substantial number of samples are still being drawn from the non prone fertilizers in the different states at the cost of prone fertilizers.  During 2001-02, on all India basis about 18.7% samples had been drawn from Urea but only 1.8% of these samples were found Non-Standard.  About 10.3% samples of total samples were drawn from the NPK mixtures, out of which 7.9% samples were found Non-Standard.  the number of samples drawn from SSP were about 12.0% of total samples and 11.3% of these samples were found Non standard.  this non judicious sampling pattern is very conspicuous in some states like Bihar, Orissa, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu where large number of samples are being drawn only from Urea.  this needs to be corrected for providing analytical facilities for the problem fertilizers.




12.            NON STANDARD SAMPLES :-


          the percentage of Non standard samples on All India basis is hovering around 5.5% during last 5 years.  However, it varies from State to State from 29.9 % in M.P., 15.8% in West Bengal, 8-10% in U.P. & Orissa, 3-5% in Chhatisgarh, Punjab, & around 1.1% in Gujarat, H.P., J&K, A.P.&  Kerala, and which does not seem to be ground reality.  the number of laboratories in different states and samples analysed 2001-02 & 2002-03 is given in TABLE 5 & 6 .


12.1   On all India basis 11.3% of SSP followed by 10.2% of MNF,7.9% NPK Mixtures, 7.1% NPK Complexes, 6.2% DAP & 1.4% MOP/SOP was found Non standard during 2001-02, but its magnitude vary from State to State. the non standard single super phosphate vary from only nil in Assam, Jharkhand, H.P., Kerala, Pondicherry to 36% in M.P. similarly the non standard fertiliser mixtures vary from only Nil in H.P. & Pondicherry to 33% in M.P. to 42% in Bihar.




i)        No full time Inspectors :-        In states except 5 states (namely; Haryana, J & K, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Orissa having the regular Joint Quality Control Inspectors looking after quality control of fertilizers, seeds and pesticides).  In all remaining states only the part time inspectors have been assigned the responsibility of fertilizers, which is not very effective.


ii)       Multiplicity of Grades :-         A large number of grades of NP & NPK having the common nutrient ratio are being produced and consumed which often creates problem in the field because of variable price and demand.


iii)      Inadequate Laboratory Facility :-    Against minimum 5.66 lakh samples to be drawn analysed from 2.83 lakh dealers, the existing capacity of 67 laboratory is only around 1.25 lakh sample which is only 20% of minimum requirement.


iv)      Drawing samples fron Non prone Fertilizers :-  In many of the states inspite of repeated advice by the Government of India, around 30-40% of samples drawn by the field inspectors are of Urea etc.  which is not prone for adulteration and so less attention given on the problem fertiliser.

v)       Very Low prosecution :-         though about 4000-5000 samples are declared non standard by the laboratories every year, the legal prosecutions are only in 5-6% cases and unfortunately the convictions by the courts is hardly to the extent of 2-3%. the prosecutions are launched only in few states like Rajasthan, UP, Gujarat, TN and MP while in most of the states, it is only the administrative action which is taken against the offenders.  this dilutes the quality control system.


vi)      No Testing facility for Dealers and Farmers :-  the Government Laboratories normally do  not  accept the private samples of dealers and farmers.  there is also no private laboratory in the Country to cater the need of dealers or farmers.  the dealer is not aware about the quality of the material purchased by him except to believe the statement of the manufacturer.


vii)            Non Participation in Training Programmes:-   though Clause 27A/29A of FCO provides for mandatory training for Fertilizer Inspectors & Analysts in training programmes organized at Central Fertiliser Quality Control & Training Institute, Faridabad and Regional Laboratories.  the participation from states like J&K, Kerala, Karnataka, UP, Bihar, Orissa and Gujarat is not adequate, Similarly, the participation from NE region at our RFCL, Kalyani is also not satisfactory inspite of fact that financial assistance is provided to meet TA/DA of the trainees.


viii     Non submission of reports by State Governments:-  Half Yearly reports are required to be sent by State Governments regarding the number of samples received and analysed, follow up action on Nonstandard samples and also the details of non standard Urea etc. to the Institute.  However, in spite of repeated requests, the reports are either received late or often incomplete.




i)        Full Time Regular Inspectors :-       To be appointed by redeployment from the existing agricultural officers.  this will require only one inspector at each of 5000 blocks and 3 Inspectors at the district headquarter making the total of about 6000 Inspectors in the Country instead of existing about 20,000 inspectors.


ii)       Relationalisation of Product Pattern :-     As per the recommendation of GVK Rao Committee and as approved by the Government the new product pattern should be nitrogen as Urea, Phosphate as DAP, SSP and Nitrophosphate and Potash as MOP.  the other grades of NP/NPK complexes having common nutrient ratio, need to be restricted to the barest minimum with high nutrient value.

iii)      Restriction on Granulated NPK mixtures :-       Since the major problem of quality control is the granulated NPK mixtures and granular SSP, which are used as a adulterant in DAP and popular grades of complexes, there is urgent need to discourage any further expansion in the NPK mixtures in most of the States.  the Govt. of India has accordingly recently taken some action to de-notify the lower grades of mixtures and the grades similar to complexes and also restricting physical mixtures through the guidelines issued to State Govts. in July,2002.

iv)      Sampling Priority and adequate training:-         Based on the identification of problem fertilizers at micro level in the States, the stress should be made on the problem fertilizers for sampling and analysis.  Adequate training to Fertiliser Inspectors are required in both technical and legal aspects of quality control for proper presentation of cases in courts of law for successful convictions.

v)       Setting up of Input diagnostic Centres by the Entrepreneurs :-      Like the medical facilities, private entrepreneurs need to be encouraged for setting up of the testing laboratories to provide the testing facility to the dealers and farmers for advisory purposes in respect of major inputs like fertilizers, seeds and pesticides.  the agro clinics and agri business centres may play an important role in this regard.

vi)      Popularising the Quick Testing Kits for Quick Detection of Adulteration in the field :-          To instill the confidence of farmers in the fertilizers purchased by them and also to help the enforcement agencies in segregating the suspected stocks in the field for quick follow up action, the Quick Testing Kit developed by CFQC&TI,  need to be popularized at the gross root level.

viii)           Creating awareness amongst farmers for use of consumer forums :-

For seeking compensation for the purchase of non standard fertilizers from the dealers, the farmers need to be well educated for approaching the consumer Forums, in addition to the legal action by Government Agencies.